A. If you appreciate the flavor nuances of sourdough bread, you're in tune with a vein of tradition held dear for centuries. This oldest form of leavened bread is enjoying a rise in popularity in kitchens, restaurants and bakeries, in celebration of its history and health qualities.
Some sourdough enthusiasts claim a range of health benefits, from treating disease to boosting mood. While sourdough bread may not live up to all of these claims, research reveals some advantages. The fermentation and long rising time appears to help break down starches, proteins, gluten, and phytates in grains, making them easier to digest, as well as boosting nutrient availability. The absorption rate of starches is slowed down, thus, reducing the glycemic index of the bread.
Studies show that eating white sourdough bread results in lower blood glucose levels compared to even whole wheat bread. --Lori Zanteson
Q. Should I be using green powders in my diet every day?
A. Green powders, consisting mainly of dried freshwater algae, are heavily marketed as the latest dietary "miracle," boasting the ability to increase energy, aid in digestion and improve immunity. While it is true that many contain ingredients that are concentrated sources of nutrients, these powders may not be worth the hype.
Chlorella and spirulina -- common ingredients in green powders -- contain high levels of nutrients, such as vitamin K and beta-carotene. And wheatgrass juice, which is dried and also often used as a component, provides a good source of vitamin C and iron. Many green powders boast high levels of chlorophyll, but this plant compound is not considered an essential nutrient and there is little science confirming known benefits.
Green powders fall under the regulation of dietary supplements, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is not responsible for making sure they are safe before they go to market. A recent analysis by ConsumerLab.com, an organization that conducts independent analyses of supplements, found three of the 10 green powder supplements tested to be contaminated with lead and/or cadmium.
You might be better off skipping expensive green powders and eating real green foods instead -- spinach, kale, and broccoli -- for a bounty of nutrients with documented health benefits. --McKenzie Hall, R.D.
(Environmental Nutrition is the award-winning independent newsletter written by nutrition experts dedicated to providing readers up-to-date, accurate information about health and nutrition in clear, concise English. For more information, visit http://www.environmentalnutrition.com.)